‘It’s unreal’ – Ashleigh Barty breaks 42-year Australian Open drought, will fight for Melbourne crown
Ashleigh Barty has become just the second Australian to reach the men’s or women’s final of the Australian Open in the 21st century.
The world number one is into her third career Slam final and first at the Australian Open, claiming some of her own national tennis history in the process.
Australia has not had a women’s singles finalist at the Australian Open since Wendy Turnbull played the championship match in 1980.
“It’s unreal,” Barty told Jim Courier in her post-match interview.
“Honestly, it’s just incredible, I love this tournament, I love coming out here and playing in Australia.
“As an Aussie, we’re exceptionally spoiled that we’re a Grand Slam nation and we get to play at home, we get to play in our back yard.
“I’m just happy that I get to play my best tennis here.
“I’ve done well before and now we have a chance to play for a title, it’s unreal,” she reiterated in disbelief.
Barty is also the first home finalist outright since Lleyton Hewitt came agonisingly close to the title in 2005 but lost to Marat Safin.
— wta (@WTA) January 27, 2022
Before Hewitt, Australia saw John Marks reach the 1978 final and Kim Wawrick did the same in 1980, both losing.
Pat Cash reached the men’s final in both 1987 and1988 but lost to Stefan Edberg and Mats Wilander respectively then.
Since 1978, the Slam event has changed venue and surface, From the grass of Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club to the hard courts of Melbourne Park.
Finally, Barty also has a shot at becoming the first Australian champion, man or woman, to claim the singles in Melbourne since Chris O’Neil won the women’s crown back in 1978.
She faces American world number 30 Danielle Collins in the final after she ousted Iga Swiatek in the second semi-final.
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